The last time Liverpool won the league

The last time Liverpool won the league I had just entered secondary school in Singapore. And my dreams of playing football were about to be crushed. 

The father thought that football would distract me from my studies. And the principal thought that football would distract us from rugby. St. Andrew’s School, founded in 1862 by the British, had a rich rugby heritage that seemed to be in decline, caught pincer-like between traditional rivals Raffles and the new upstarts at Dunearn. 

Harry Tan, an ageing patriarch with viewpoints as stiff as his weak back, one day decreed that he was banning school football so that young athletes could focus on rugby. Upon hearing the news Indra Sahdan Daud, the football phenomenon in our team who would go on to captain Singapore, packed his bags and left for St. Gabriel’s.

So while we played rugby inside the school, we played football outside the school, using a plastic ball that drifted in the wind, on a cement handball court that was primed for bruises and sprains, smack in the middle of Potong Pasir, then proudly the only opposition ward in the whole country. 

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A free ride: Singapore’s prime minister in a muddle

Often when Singaporean politicians stray from the script, they produce gems, phrases for the ages, words destined for internet meme stardom.

Yesterday I was on my way home from town when four buddies messaged me on separate chats: “Did you hear what he just said?”; “Did you see the exchange?”; “Free riders? Hmm.” 

Like the fan who is late to the game and has missed the opening goal, I scoured YouTube as soon as I got home. 

I watched Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, describing a segment of opposition voters as “free riders”, in a parliamentary exchange with Pritam Singh, the leader of the opposition.

Mr Lee was specifically referring to Singaporean voters who voted for the opposition even though they expected the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) to win the election.

“But if you say, vote for for me, somebody else will vote for the PAP, and therefore the PAP will be the government, that, the economists will call a free rider. It means that you’re taking advantage of somebody else who’s doing their duty of electing a government for the nation.” (Video at the bottom.)

This is an awful thing for a country’s leader to say about its voters. Here are five reasons why.

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